The dramatic Covid-19 lockdown is saving lives - but it has also meant that many hundreds of homeless people in central London have been stranded - as the usual support centres have closed. While the council and charities rush to house rough sleepers, it is volunteers from the churches, including St Patrick's in Soho Square, the French Church in Leicester Square and Farm Street Church in Mayfair - together with two central London hotels, that are providing them with meals.
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, parish priest at Farm Street Church told ICN: "So many people are coming together to work hard in conjunction with the Council, the police, Caritas and homeless agencies to try to solve this issue. The aim is very simple: to feed and accommodate what seems to be a growing number of desperate rough sleepers who are at great risk, roaming the streets of London in a time of pandemic. Thanks to the incredible courage and generosity of St Patrick's, many volunteers and of the Mayfair hotels Claridges and the Connaught, they are at least being fed and cared for. But much still needs to be done."
The two hotels, owned by Paddy Mckillen, are donating 300 hot lunches and 300 hot dinners - which are being given to the homeless by volunteers from St Patricks and Farm Street to the homeless in Soho Square.
Adrian Richmond, head of security at the Connaught told ICN: "We're all working together on this. All the meals are beautifully prepared and cooked. Everything is placed in sealed containers so they can be heated before serving. We all help to take them out to be collected. Its just good to be able to help."
Anshu Anghotra, Executive Head Chef at the two hotels has co-ordinated the project. He told ICN: "We've known Fr Dominic at Farm Street church for several years. When the lockdown happened we wondered what we could do to help. We were very glad to be able to offer our services. Food is always a good way to reach people's hearts."
Anshu said he went recently to St Patrick's in Soho to see the meals being distributed. "It was a real eye-opener to see so many people waiting in the square, and so many volunteers coming out to serve them," he said. Providing these meals in the least we can do."
(Further reports to follow)
Farm Street Church: www.farmstreet.org.uk/ Includes details of on-line services and donate facilities to help support their work.
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